How to wear a statement cardigan

Priya Elan
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian

Last time I wrote about the cardigan, I concentrated on its journey from cosy to cool, but over lockdown it has become almost a statement piece. In many ways, it is the perfect clothing item for now. Just think about the ease of slipping it over a T-shirt that has been worn for too many days, or the way it lifts your look, even when that look involves sweat pants and flip-flops.

The psychology of the cardie seems pretty simple: I feel as if I am being cradled, held by non-judgmental arms of support, swaddled like a baby. This seems to be a lot of what comfort dressing is about: when you wake up and it’s another day of restricted mundanity, your clothes become some sort of armour. (In the early days of lockdown, I’d only leave the house wearing a mask and a Yoko Ono style pair of sunglasses making me feel protected from all unknowables, but pretty unapproachable, too.)

More than six months later, it’s hard to imagine life without a cardigan, even on the rare occasions that call for dressing up. The trick here is to give something seemingly humble a massive upgrade. So with apologies to Taylor Swift’s sadigan, I’ve thought up the jazzigan. This is the kind of bold, primary colour-led piece that zhuzhes up an outfit in a way we wouldn’t typically expect from a cardie.

Related: How to wear a flamboyant silk shirt | Priya Elan

Years ago, when I worked in the music industry at the fag-end of electroclash, I had an electric blue cardigan. It was more Jarvis than Justice (you know: the French dance band), but at the time I couldn’t work out how to style it, aside from with other eye-popping garments.

Today, I’m wearing one from streetwear brand Aries Arise (you might remember their tie-dye sweatpants from a couple of months ago), and I love it. A Wotsits shade of orange with a column pattern in kale green and a funky cut, it feels both accessible and edgy. It could work equally well with a pair of slim-fitting jeans or leaf-green chinos.

Yes, my outfit is relatively out there by the conservative standards of most menswear. But the cardigan’s pure comfort roots make it hard to resist.

• Priya wears cardigan and T-shirt, both Priya’s own